Sunday Scripture Readings

twelfth sunday

in ordinary time,

June 23

Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalm 69;

Romans 5:12-15; Matthew 10:26-33

OUR GOOD NEWS: How to find peace in our daily lives - trust God! One of life's many mysteries is why persons who do only good and never evil are often despised, hated, even destroyed. This was pre-eminently Jeremiah's experience as seemingly the only just person in Jerusalem. An idealistic prophet who loved and tried to care for his people, who stood apart from the community with its inevitable compromises and selfishness, Jeremiah nevertheless aroused the hostility of his fellow citizens and even of his family. "All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine. Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail, and take our vengeance upon him." At times we may share his experience, not only unappreciated but even misjudged and opposed while seeking the good of others. "But the Lord is with me." A sudden change of temperament moves Jeremiah from discouragement to trust in God, who had promised always to deliver him. One day all surely will be made right. Jeremiah then cried out, "Let me witness the vengeance you take on them!" This sounds, well, unChristian and out of character for a selfless person dedicated to his people. But since Jeremiah, like his countrymen, didn't know of afterlife, justice required tangible and unmistakable retribution now. But the prophet was less concerned with personal vindication and more focused on the honor and reputation of God, a vindication which Jeremiah expected one day to witness. "In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion." God will not be mocked by evildoers! In today's Gospel, after predicting future opposition and persecution (last Sunday's passage), Jesus encouraged his disciples to stand firm. Three times they are urged, "Do not fear!" "Do not be afraid!" Instead of shrinking from their task, they are to proclaim the Gospel boldly, just as Jeremiah was assured of God's protection. And truth will eventually triumph: "Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed." Jesus' command, "do not be afraid of anything," seems an impossible ideal, given the stresses of modern life. We remind ourselves that anxiety is a sin when it is a manifestation of pride. Anxiety is the illusion of control. To be free from attempts to make others do things our way, we need only let go, and let God. Until Jesus' resurrection and formal commissioning in the final verses of Matthew's Gospel, private and exclusive instruction reserved for the apostles would be proclaimed openly. Here Christianity distances itself from other contemporary religions, which jealously guarded their teachings. "What you hear in private, proclaim from the housetops." Secret revelations reserved for the chosen few are utterly foreign to our faith. Jesus intends that the Good News first proclaimed by him is destined to be heard and shared with everyone.

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